Raise Your Hand…

Fed up? You’re not alone.

…if you are furious about this latest domestic terrorist act that has killed 19 innocent children in this country, along with 2 teachers.

Raise your hand…

…if you feel that this mass shooting, along with all others, is government-sanctioned by way of their failure to act.

Raise your hand…

…if the phrase “thoughts and prayers” coupled with an obvious intent to maintain the status quo makes you want to vomit.

Raise your hand…

…if you have tried to explain that you don’t want to take everyone’s guns away, just the ones that can fire 45 rounds per minute, which have no legitimate private use unless you are in the midst of a zombie freakin’ apocalypse.

Raise your hand…

…if you are stunned by gun advocates’ utter selfishness and refusal to absorb international statistics that prove that reasonable gun restrictions prevent the mass slaughter of children.

Raise your hand…

…if you refuse to vote for a politician who gets money from the NRA, because that person demonstrates that he or she puts that greed ahead of the lives and safety of the people she or he would be elected to represent.

Raise your hand…

…if you are fed up with a government that refuses to listen to the majority of us, especially with regard to gun restrictions, women’s rights, health care and the environment.

Raise your hand…

…if you see blood on the hands of every politician who refuses to make changes after expressing deep sympathy for the parents who will never see their children again.

Raise your hand…

…if you are profoundly tired and/or depressed and/or feeling helpless.

Raise your hand…

…if you are increasingly ashamed of congress’ inability to act on our behalf rather than in their own financial best interests.

Raise your hand…

…if you are horrified by the ever-increasing bias of the supreme court.

Raise your hand…

…if you believe that a political party that supports the overthrow of a legitimately elected president should be stripped of its power.

Raise your hand…

…if you believe that wealth should be taxed at a much higher rate.

Raise your hand…

…if you cannot and will not support fascism in any form.

Raise your hand…

…if you are tired of being scared, disappointed, and bitter.

Raise your hand…

…if you are disgusted by the utter lack of consequences for blatantly criminal acts, even as you watch other people get imprisoned for absurd reasons.

Raise your hand…

…if you struggle every day to not become cynical and sedentary.

Raise your hand…

…if you think that those who wish to suppress history and encourage censorship have an evil, racist agenda.

Raise your hand…

… if you are tired of decision makers who think that islands float, that snowballs prove there’s no global warming, that women can’t get pregnant if “legitimately” raped, that wind turbines cause cancer, that not all workers deserve a living wage, that we all don’t deserve the same access to affordable healthcare, that women should submit to their husbands, that Jewish space lasers actually exist, and that all homosexuals are automatically pedophiles and all immigrants are automatically violent criminals.

Raise your hand…

… if people who continue to vote for such politicians scare you.

Raise your hand…

…if you are sick and tired of gerrymandering for any political party, and think that all districts should be shaped as squares or rectangles, with 90 degree angles, with the exception of state boarders and coastlines, with their size adjusted by number of voters in the area, and that what party someone registers for should not be allowed to be taken into consideration.

Raise your hand…

…if you believe that the electoral college is an outmoded system that not only doesn’t serve us well, but also is harmful to this country. One person, one vote. We have the technology.

And most of all, raise your hand…

…if you’re feeling trapped in a f***ed up, theocratic, ignorance-worshiping, mentally ill, selfish, money-grubbing and utterly brainwashed society that is increasingly run by criminals, fascists and liars.

SPEAK UP AND VOTE…

…for every cause you believe to be just, and in every single election in which you are qualified to vote, no matter how insignificant it may seem or how inconvenient the powers that be make it for you to exercise that right.

Do it for the lives of your children. Do it for your community. Do it to stamp out ignorance and hate. Do it for the planet. Do it to preserve whatever shred of compassion and hope and optimism and good will you still manage to possess.

Do it so that all this sh** will stop.

Because you are not alone in knowing that it has to stop.

What follows is a list of American cities or counties where mass shootings have occurred SO FAR in 2022 ALONE, most recent first, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Stanwood, Michigan
Anniston, Alabama
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Uvalde, Texas
North Charleston, SC
Cleveland, Ohio
Goshen, Indiana
Tacoma, Washington
Kissimmee, Florida
Highland, California
New Orleans, Louisiana
Chicago, Illinois
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Palo Alto, California
Laguna Woods, California
Winston Salem, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Houston, Texas
Amarillo, Texas
Buffalo, New York
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Hot Springs National Park, AK
Chicago, Illinois
Saint Louis, Missouri
Indianapolis, Indiana
Paterson, New Jersey
Baltimore, Maryland
Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Baltimore, Maryland
Brookshire, Texas
Detroit, Michigan
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Clarkston, Georgia
Lexington, Kentucky
Garland, Texas
Miami, Florida
New Orleans, Louisiana
Sunnyside, Washington
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Cowley (county), Kansas
Beaumont, Texas
Lafayette, Louisiana
Springfield, Ohio
Tarpon Springs, Florida
North Charleston, SC
Atlanta, Georgia
Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson, Tennessee
New Orleans, Louisiana
Laurel, Mississippi
Bessemer, Alabama
Chicago, Illinois
Opelousas, Louisiana
Biloxi, Mississippi
San Antonio, Texas
Phoenix, Arizona
Birmingham, Alabama
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Lafayette, Indiana
Chicago, Illinois
Rocky Mount, North Carolina
San Bernardino, California
Atlanta, Georgia
Petersburg, Virginia
Cincinnati, Ohio
Washington, DC
Mountain View, Arkansas
Duluth, Minnesota
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Portland, Oregon
Furman, South Carolina
Sacramento, California
Miami, Florida
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Baldwin, Louisiana
Columbia, South Carolina
Baltimore, Maryland
North Las Vegas, Nevada
Daingerfield, Texas
Syracuse, New York
Stockton, California
Brooklyn, New York
Bronx, New York
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Elgin, Illinois
Willowbrook, California
Indianapolis, Indiana
Washington, DC
Miami, Florida
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Covington, Kentucky
Hartford, Connecticut
Buffalo, New York
San Francisco, California
Dallas, Texas
Sacramento, California
Shelby, North Carolina
Monroe, Louisiana
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Shreveport, Louisiana
Walterboro, South Carolina
Hollister, California
Cleveland, Ohio
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Stockton, California
Waterbury, Connecticut
Chicago, Illinois
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Houston, Texas
Austin, Texas
Norfolk, Virginia
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Dumas, Arkansas
Madison Heights, Virginia
Dallas, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
New Iberia, Louisiana
Lansing, Michigan
Chicago, Illinois
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Irvington, New Jersey
Irvington, New Jersey
Ozark, Alabama
Reading, Pennsylvania
Chicago, Illinois
Rochester, New York
Columbia, South Carolina
Baltimore, Maryland
Autaugaville, Alabama
Columbus, Ohio
Aurora, Colorado
Jacksonville, Florida
Knoxville, Tennessee
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hazleton, Pennsylvania
Louisville, Kentucky
Lubbock, Texas
Monroe, Louisiana
Chester, South Carolina
Glendale, Arizona
Atlanta, Georgia
Las Vegas, Nevada
Baltimore, Maryland
Sacramento, California
Alexandria, Louisiana
North Charleston, SC
Las Vegas, Nevada
Bogalusa, Louisiana
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
San Antonio, Texas
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Omaha, Nebraska
Des Moines, Iowa
Portland, Oregon
Mccomb, Mississippi
Durham, North Carolina
Portland, Oregon
Charleston, Missouri
Turlock, California
Temple Hills, Maryland
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Houston, Texas
Miami, Florida
Joliet, Illinois
Racine, Wisconsin
West Hollywood, California
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Little Rock, Arkansas
Springfield, Missouri
Phoenix, Arizona
Romeoville, Illinois
Fresno, California
Wilmington, North Carolina
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Corsicana, Texas
Blacksburg, Virginia
Oroville, California
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Raleigh, North Carolina
Winter Haven, Florida
Augusta, Georgia
Saint Louis, Missouri
Atlanta, Georgia
Bakersfield, California
Washington, DC
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Inglewood, California
Baltimore, Maryland
New Orleans, Louisiana
Miami, Florida
San Antonio, Texas
Savannah, Georgia
Knoxville, Tennessee
Brunswick, Georgia
Eugene, Oregon
Brooklyn, New York
Chicago, Illinois
Fresno, California
Los Angeles, California
Montgomery, Alabama
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Houston, Texas
Jackson, Mississippi
Corsicana, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Columbia, Missouri
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Kenosha, Wisconsin
Peoria, Illinois
Dillon, South Carolina
South Bend, Indiana
Denver, Colorado

A Letter to Congress

Feel free to send this to your congressmen as well.

In light of recent events, I felt the need to reach out to my congressmen. In my case, these are Representative Adam Smith, Senator Patty Murray, and Senator Maria Cantwell. If you agree with my statement below, feel free to send it to your congressmen as well, either by letter or by e-mailing them a link to this post, as long as you give me original credit for the idea.

“First of all, thank you and all your colleagues for being public servants in these trying times. Your service should never put your life at risk. The insurrection in our nation’s capitol was unconscionable and should never be repeated.

“In light of that, I humbly request that the first paragraph of the preamble of the Democratic Platform should be changed. This paragraph should reflect a moral compass that all rational human beings can agree upon. This or a similar paragraph should always be included in every party’s platform.

“My suggestion is as follows:

“’As Democrats, we believe in the rule of law and the constitution. We believe that violence and terrorism are unacceptable, and that our democratic process should be inviolate. Anyone who disagrees with any of these tenets does not, and never will, speak for the Democratic Party.’

“I hope you’ll consider putting forward this suggestion, and as a fellow Democrat, I would encourage you to suggest that this should be made the first paragraph of the Republican platform, and indeed, any other party’s platform, as well. (If every party made this change at the same time, it would show unity and strength, and no one would have to feel that he or she is copying a political opponent.) It is high time we disavow the lunatic fringe. They do not deserve our endorsement in any way, shape or form.

“Thank you for your consideration, and, again, thank you for your service.”

Sincerely,

Barbara Abelhauser

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Congressional Hearings Then and Now

How radically one’s priorities shift over time.

Even as I write this, I’m listening to the impeachment hearings. I’ve borne witness to live testimony at every opportunity. I’m finding it riveting.

I’m really impressed with some of the dedicated public servants I’ve had the opportunity to hear. There really are bureaucrats out there who are well-meaning and full of integrity. That makes me feel as though our country may be able to recover from all this divisiveness and corruption. Someday.

Unfortunately, these testimonies have also shined a light on some of the cockroaches in our government. Those who are choosing not to testify are not participating in the process of revealing truth and clarifying the situation. Justice is not the end goal for these people. Their integrity will forever be in question, as far as I’m concerned. Clearly, they have something to hide.

Other cockroaches include those who are trying to stir up drama by using inflammatory phrases in the hopes that they’ll make good sound bites. Comparing this situation to a “drug deal” or an “inquisition” is not helpful, nor is it even remotely accurate. Implying that the closed-door depositions are somehow out of order is absurd. In all types of hearings, depositions are behind closed doors. The only time one sees a deposition is in the movies. Also, attempting to out the whistleblower is an effort to find a scapegoat to deflect attention from the subject of the impeachment.

But worst of all, without a doubt, are the tweets and the bullies who are attempting to intimidate witnesses. It makes this country look like a banana republic. It makes us look like thugs. And it makes me ashamed.

But even as I listen to these hearings, I remember the 8 year old me during the Watergate scandal. Little me threw more than one tantrum because the hearings pre-empted all her children’s programming. And it seemed to go on for an eternity. She was sooooooooo bored! She was furious at her mother for not being able to tell “someone” to restore decent television to the land.

What a difference maturity and life experience make. How radically one’s priorities shift over time. And thank goodness for Netflix.

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Should Congress Be Paid During a Shutdown?

If we suffer, they should suffer, too.

I was discussing this on Facebook recently. I find it rather outrageous that our President, along with Congress, can cause the longest government shutdown in our nation’s history, and not have to feel any of the pain themselves. Granted, 45 is a millionaire, as is 25% of the House and 50% of the Senate, so they probably wouldn’t feel it very much. But if you’re going to turn thousands of people into unpaid slaves, and thrust even more into financial destitution, all for your own political douchebaggery, then you ought to pay some sort of price.

It does turn out that Congress has completely separate fiscal funding for a very good reason. This was put into place so that the executive branch couldn’t force Congress into compliance by withholding its pay. It was all about separation of powers. This applies to the judicial branch as well. That makes perfect sense to me.

However, I think we need to make it a requirement that Congress and the White House can’t force We, the People, into compliance by withholding our pay, too. They shouldn’t be able to make the nation suffer without suffering themselves.

We need to only elect people who are willing to agree not to draw a salary whenever the government is unfunded. Congress could also do this with a simple resolution. I suspect you’d see some very different motivation if that were the case.

I also think that if Congress and the President are going to get us involved in wars on foreign soil, thus forcing a percentage of our children into battle zones, then a certain percentage of their children should have to go as well. This could be done in a special draft system.

And if you’re going to vote that things like waterboarding aren’t torture, then you should first have to experience it once yourself, right in the capital rotunda. And politicians should also have to drink the same water as the citizens of Flint, Michigan, and eat the same lunch as the average elementary school student. Fair’s fair.

I’m sick and tired of these politicians sitting up there on some protected cloud of privilege while they have the potential to make life miserable for the rest of us.

(A special thanks to my friend Areiel for helping me flesh out my thinking about this idea.)

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Again

Our children are dying. 18 school shootings so far this year. (But it must be noted that this number is controversial, and depends on one’s definition of a school shooting. Still, I think we can agree that even one is too many.) We are not even through February. What’s the magic number? How many have to die, how many have to cower in closets, terrified, before we do more than think and pray?

How many funerals must be held before we decide that there is absolutely no reason for anyone outside of the military to own a semi-automatic weapon? What’s the tipping point when shame will overtake greed and force politicians to act? When will mental health care (and health care in general, for that matter) become a priority in this country?

We need to put the NRA, President Trump, and the US Congress on notice. Every shooting, every single one, is blood on their hands. They are responsible. They need to be held accountable. Their inaction is criminal and should be prosecuted accordingly. Because of them, people are dying.

Oh, and by the way, fuck you and your right to bear arms.

9mm_round

My Daily Homework

Okay, I’ve had it. I’ve decided that I have to do more. I have to speak up and speak out, because this country is circling the drain. So I’ve assigned myself some daily homework.

First, I Googled my US Representative and my two Senators for my particular zip code. I wrote down their names and phone numbers.

Then I wrote myself a general script, based on things that have been floating around on Facebook:

“Hi, my name is ___________ I’m a constituent from  (city, state, zip code). I don’t need a response. I am (in favor of) (opposed to) __________ and I encourage the (Senator) (Representative) to please (oppose) (support) it as well. Thanks for your hard work!”

I’ll pick one issue a day and call them. Short, sweet, to the point. That frees up their phone line for the next person. And saying I don’t need a response frees up their time.

I’ll keep a list of issues and the dates I called about them, so I don’t repeat myself. Unless I really feel I need to.

I happen to be in a location where I’ll most likely be preaching to the choir. My congresswomen pretty much agree with me. But they are forced to swim in a very toxic soup, so it doesn’t hurt to remind them about what we really think.

One thing I was always good at was being a student. (It’s the rest of life that seems to be a challenge.) So I’ll be doing my homework faithfully. And so far, it has only taken about two minutes each day, because I’ve been getting right through. Care to join me?

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Congressional Boot Camp

In theory, members of congress represent the will of their constituents, but in practice that hasn’t been the case for quite some time, with few exceptions. They know it. We know it. Their decisions are based entirely upon their personal ideologies, and that of their financial backers. To hell with the people. We, the people, mean absolutely nothing to them.

It always astounds me that politicians are elected and paid to pass legislation on issues that they know absolutely nothing about. How is it possible for someone to sit in judgment on topics that are completely outside of their realm of experience?

Here’s a thought. If we dismantle the fundraising mechanism for congress, if we cap the amount of money one can spend to run for office, level the playing field, as it were, prohibit contributions by corporations, and make all funds go through a general pool so that no politician can determine the source of the proceeds and therefore is beholden to no one, then the public will be running the country once again.

This would also free up a lot of time. Congressmen spend the bulk of their time in fundraising activities. If this were no longer an issue, there would be greater opportunities to do the things that they should have been doing all along: familiarizing themselves with the issues they are weighing in on.

For example, how can people vote about whether or not to go to war when the vast majority of them have never set foot in a war zone? Before they can vote on such an important issue, they should either have to live in a war zone for two months, or send their children to fight on the front line.

Don’t think waterboarding is torture? Before you can say that, you should have to experience it yourself, and also subject someone else to it.

Against abortion? I’ll take you seriously once you’ve adopted a crack baby with fetal alcohol syndrome.

Making policies that impact the homeless? Sleep on the street for a month. Preferably in winter.

Weighing in on immigration? Let’s take everything away from you, surround you with people who want you dead, and kick you out of your homeland. Then we’ll talk.

All this could be avoided if everyone in congress possessed one quality: empathy. The ability to imagine what life is like for others, particularly the less fortunate. The concept that just because something isn’t a problem for you, that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. Until you have some moral authority, as far as I’m concerned, you have no authority at all.

End of rant.

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Respect for the Presidency

During Obama’s recent State of the Union address, there was a moment that made me sick to my stomach. Don’t get excited, Republicans. I actually agreed with everything he had to say, as predictable as most of it was.

No, what made me sick was the way some Republican congressmen reacted to something he said. Toward the end of his speech, and less than 7 minutes after he talked about the need for politicians to set a better example for the American people, this happened:

(For those of you who can’t see the video, Obama says, “I have no more campaigns to run.” And you hear applause. Applause. To his credit, Obama retorts, “I know, ‘cause I won both of ‘em.”

The reason I was sickened was that, call me old fashioned, I still think that even if you disagree with the man who holds the office, you still should have respect for the presidency. This is the man that the majority of Americans elected to be the leader of the free world. Twice. That counts for something. That matters.

I despised President Bush (both of them, actually), but I was still horrified when someone threw a shoe at him. And every sane person should be shocked at assassination attempts, whether they succeed or not.

You don’t have to like Obama in order to realize that we are lucky as hell to have a president rather than a dictator. We have been changing leaders every 4 or 8 years since this country began without a single military coup. That’s pretty freakin’ phenomenal. Our country is one of the few that can say that. And a lot of people have fought and died to allow us to maintain these rights.

There seems to be a growing cynicism and lack of respect in this country. If we can’t even maintain it for our chosen leader, then all hope is lost. Obama had a point. Congress needs to set an example. What they did with their applause during that few moments of the State of the Union address tells you all you need to know the next time you consider voting for one of these people. We need to restore more dignity to the political process. If our representatives can’t even do that much, it’s time for a change.

Why Do We Need Politicians Anymore?

The other day my dog jumped on me while I was in the middle of REM sleep. It felt like someone dropped a canned ham on me from a two story building. In retrospect perhaps it was a good thing, because it brought something to my conscious mind that had apparently been percolating in my subconscious. Under normal circumstances I’d have lost the thread of my dream-weaving upon awakening, but this was as if the door to my dream world was kicked in. By a canned ham.

Now bear with me, because this is a half formed theory, but the more I think about it, the more I like it.

For centuries, it made sense to have politicians. In a world that was predominately rural, in a time when it took days to travel to city centers and months to get news, it was only logical to have people who would represent you when it came time to make critical governmental decisions. Back then, even the electoral college actually made sense. Imagine that.

But it’s a different world now. In this technologically advanced age, there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t all weigh in directly on every single issue that matters to us. One person, one vote, every issue. We could do away with congress entirely. Heaven knows they haven’t been doing much of late in any case.

Think about it. No more years-long election campaigns. No more tedious and warped political advertisements. No more gerrymandering. No more bribes. No more sex scandals. No more ignorant misogynistic rants. No more adding pork to various issues to satisfy a powerful politician’s personal agenda. No more unfair balance of power. Every citizen would have an equal amount of power.

What it would do, unfortunately, is give even more influence to the biased news outlets, because everyone would be trying to sway your opinion before you weigh in on various issues. The misinformation would be flying thick and fast, even more so than it is today if that’s possible. You’d really have to do your homework, and I doubt many people would take the time to do so. They certainly don’t seem to now.

And we’d have to figure out a way to deal with computer hacking.

Like I said, this is a half formed theory. Heaven only knows how we’d pass a budget. But wait. We don’t seem to do that these days anyway.

Here’s the scary part about this concept, the part that will make you blink. In order to switch to this type of pure democracy, barring violent overthrow, we’d have to gain the cooperation of the politicians who are currently in office. They’d have to, effectively, vote themselves out of a job. And they wouldn’t. We have given them all our power, and there is no way that they’ll ever let it go. No way.

I don’t know about you, but I find that rather terrifying.

congress

Fred Rogers Was My Father

fred_rogers

On the last day of 2012, I have a confession to make. I watched Mr. Rogers Neighborhood to an embarrassingly old age. It was my dirty little secret. I told no one. It was something for just the two of us. Every day I’d tune in to the only father figure I had. He would speak calmly to me when others would shout. He would encourage me when others were too tired to try. He would make me feel like I was okay when others made me feel like an outcast. Most importantly, he would make me feel secure at a time when my life was not the least bit safe. When he said that everyone had something different about them, something you could learn from, or that you could grow ideas in the garden of your mind, I believed him. To this day, I can say without reservation that Fred Rogers always had my best interests at heart. There are not too many people in this world who you can say that about.

If the man had run for president, he would have won. It says a lot about his wisdom that he never did so. But if he had held the highest office in the land, things would have been quite different. He’d have strode calmly and politely into congress and shamed them into stepping away from that fiscal cliff. He’d have given Washington a moral compass that is sorely lacking in this day and age. Maybe he would not have gotten the right and left to agree, but he certainly would have had them communicating respectfully and acting like the adults that they are supposed to be. He would have put a stop to the politics by fear that seems to be the rule of the day. And when tragedy strikes, as it sometimes will, he would be able to comfort the entire nation with his sincerity. One thing is for certain: If Fred Rogers were president, sweaters would come back in style.

Rest in peace, Mr. Rogers. When you passed away, millions of us lost the only father we ever knew.